On behalf of our entire team, I’m thrilled to say that TakeRoot Justice is here!
This incredible group has been working over the past year to plan for an organization aligned with our values of justice and equity. TakeRoot Justice provides legal, participatory research and policy support to strengthen the work of grassroots and community-based groups in New York City to dismantle racial, economic and social oppression.
Following 18 years of impact as a project of the Urban Justice Center, we are ready to launch as an independent organization. We will continue to have the same practice areas, with the same bold, tenacious and brilliant team members driving our work.
While we celebrate our organizational independence during this Fourth of July week, we also recognize this moment as one of profound injustice.
Audre Lorde teaches us: “I am not free while any other woman is unfree, even if her shackles are very different from my own”. So many of our people—our sisters and brothers, our children—are unfree. Our shackles may look like cages near our southern borders, exploitative work conditions at a construction site or persistent housing discrimination. Our shackles may be debt, poverty and never getting ahead in a country shaped by massive economic inequality: over the last thirty years, while the top one percent increased its total net worth by $21 trillion, the bottom 50 percent saw its net worth decrease by $900 billion. Until all these shackles are broken, we have work to do.
As a Black woman, a descendant of enslaved Americans, I come from a people with a deep well of hope. It is not a light and cheerful hope. Our hope—my optimism—is a tool of personal and collective survival. It is the optimism of Langston Hughes that stirs me every day to help make an America that has never been:
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!
These words have fueled me throughout fifteen years of work to close the racial wealth divide, from the local to the national level, and they power me today.
In independence, TakeRoot Justice will continue to follow our vision of collective liberation. We will center our work around racial justice, create an equitable city from the neighborhood level, strengthen our democracy from the bottom up, and fight at the intersections of justice and economic opportunity.
How does our work fight for greater freedom in this moment?
- Ensuring that our asylum system continues to help those facing persecution
- Increasing community and youth voice on educational equity in New York
- Advancing and enforcing true affordable housing
This is what TakeRoot Justice means to me. Over the next few weeks you’ll be hearing from my colleagues and our inspiring first Board of Directors. Stay connected on social media and let us know what our work together can mean for New York City.
Thank you for your partnership – past, present and future. The fights we take on together are the fights we will win.
Elizabeth Clay Roy